A rally of Ukrainian activists in Kharkiv ended with toppling a Soviet-era monument of Vladimir Lenin on the night of Sept. 28.
The monument was standing on the city’s central Svoboda Square (Freedom Square). It took protesters several hours to topple the statue. They sawed the legs of the metal statue with an angle grinder before putting cables on its body and pulling the monument down.
Over 160 Lenin monuments were toppled in Ukraine in less than a year. The first Lenin went down in Kyiv on Dec. 8, 2013, toppled by the EuroMaidan protesters.
At least 5,000 people reportedly showed up at the rally in support of Ukraine’s unity earlier on Sept. 28 in Kharkiv. Many were holding Ukrainian flags and singing national anthem at the rally.
Some of the participants then moved to Svoboda Square where they attempted to saw off parts of the Lenin’s monument and used a hammer to make a “Glory to Ukraine” inscription on it.
“A monument to the heroes who fought and died for Ukraine’s independence and unity should be put on this place instead,” Anton Herashchenko, adviser for Interior Minister, said in a Facebook post.
His boss Arsen Avakov, once a governor in Kharkiv, wrote his own post, saying “let him fall,” and adding that he ordered police to not guard the monument.
In response to activists’ attempts to topple Lenin’s monument Kharkiv region governor Ihor Baluta has signed a decree on official demolition of the monument.
“For the purpose of settling the situation that occurred in the region over the monuments of totalitarian era, the monument of Lenin in particular, regional department of culture and tourism should immediately take measures regarding demolition of Lenin monument on Svoboda square,” the decree reads.
However, the monument was toppled before the authorities could begin to demolish it.
A case over topling the monument (Article ‘Hooliganism’) had been initiated, but after the governor’s decree it was closed.